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Say NO to that “To File” pile

January 11th, 2012

I know, I’ve tried it as well. At first, a to-file pile seems like a good idea. However, experience has proven again and again that the “to file” pile strategy doesn’t work for most people (this is not the same as an in-box. Having a place where unexamined paper lands is vital to an effective office space).

Here’s a typical scenario. You designate a folder your “to file” folder to save time. You begin to stuff the folder full of items. Next thing you know, your folder is overflowing and, when you go looking for a document that you vaguely remember, you can’t find it in the folder. After 20 minutes of sorting and mounting frustration, you’ll likely find that document somewhere on the floor next to your file cabinet because your “to-file” folder was already full. (Yes, I’m on to you:)

The most effective way to manage your filing is to create a filing system that works for you. It’s important to review all the file names monthly at first so that you’re very familiar with what’s contained in your reference system. If you know where things go in your system it won’t take any longer to place documents in their assigned file as it currently does to place them in your “to file” folder.

The following three steps will help you get rid of that dreaded “to-file” pile:

  1. Sort your current “to file” folder into piles and identify the types of files that land there.
  2. Review your current file names and identify any potential gaps (i.e. file types that don’t have a folder they fit into).
  3. Create files for missing topics by adding new names and folders.

The real trick is to review your files regularly. It will help you locate specific files and file with ease so that you don’t need a “to-file” pile.

Have you recently given up your “to file” pile? I’d like to hear your experience – leave a comment. Of course, if you need help sorting through your files and setting up a filing system, connect with me.

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